Toward a Better Understanding of the Link Between Parent and Child Physical Activity Levels: The Moderating Role of Parental Encouragement

Document Type

Article - Open Access

Publication Title

Journal of Physical Activity and Health


Human Kinetics

Publication Date


Abstract/ Summary

Background Research on adolescent physical activity is mixed regarding the role of parent activity. This study tested parent encouragement, direct modeling, and perceived influence as moderators of objectively-measured (accelerometer) parent and child moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) associations.

Methods Parent-child dyads (n = 423; Mchild age = 11.33 yrs.) wore accelerometers for 7 days; parents completed surveys. Hierarchical linear regression models tested moderation using a product of constituent terms interaction.

Results Parent-reported encouragement moderated the association between parent and child MVPA (B = −.15, p = .01, ΔR2 = .02, p < .01). Among parents with lower MVPA, child MVPA was higher for children receiving high encouragement (M = 3.06, SE = .17) vs. low (M = 3.03, SE = .15, p = .02) and moderate encouragement (M = 3.40, SE = .09) vs. low (p = 0.04).

Conclusions Physical activity promotion programs may use parent encouragement as a tool to boost child activity, but must consider other child and parent characteristics that could attenuate effects.